Ruling Socialists retain support despite internal strife

After a difficult week for the government involving a dispute with its international creditors and growing internal rifts over structural reforms, two new opinion polls showed ruling PASOK maintaining a narrowing lead over New Democracy as the conservative opposition leader declared over the weekend that the socialist administration is «close to collapse.»

One of the surveys, carried out by polling firm Pulse for the Eleftheros Typos newspaper, showed PASOK leading the main opposition by 3.5 percentage points, down from 6 percentage points last October. According to the survey, PASOK would win an election with 23.5 percent of the vote were an election to be held now, versus 20 percent for ND. The second poll, carried out by Rass for To Paron, showed PASOK to be ahead of ND by 3.6 percentage points with 26.1 percent of respondents expressing their support for the ruling party as opposed to 22.7 percent for ND.

As the ruling Socialists struggle to present a united front despite infighting over austerity measures, New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras charged that the government was in a state of semi-paralysis and giving out «repeated signs of confusion and weakness.» Addressing ND’s political committee on Saturday, Samaras also accused the government of «handing the keys to Greece» over to its creditors.

In a related development, reported in yesterday’s Katherimini, it has emerged that Prime Minister George Papandreou had appealed to the International Monetary Fund for help in December 2009, four months before his televized request to Greece’s eurozone partners for financial support.

The revelation is made by IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn in a documentary to be aired on France’s Canal+ private television channel next month. Commenting on the report yesterday, government spokesman, Giorgos Petalotis, said: «The Greek government and the prime minister in particular have made huge efforts to avert the risk of bankruptcy which became clear after the elections of 2009 [in October],» noting that this risk had been «deliberately covered up» by ND.

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